To My Neighbors-
I don’t like getting involved in party politics because it is deceiving and polarizing. When central committees spew their hogwash thru their bullhorns, it is the only thing that lands in our ears. The pay-off for them is our distraction from the control they gain over us and our government. (A “central committee” is a small group of well-organized individuals whose sole purpose is to advertise their political ideologies to the public in order to sway us to their way of thinking.)
The main political event in Minnesota is our General Election: it is the time when we Minnesotans get to choose who will govern us. But, how a person gets put on the General Election ballot is a mystery to most Minnesotans. The general rule of thumb is that a political party moves their central committee to nominate someone, and that nominee appears on the General Election ballot. A “political party” is that group of people who affiliate themselves with the ideologies of a specific central committee: it is that group of Minnesotans whom the related central committee has influenced to their way of thinking.
“[People] have a federal constitutional right to be considered for public service without the burden of invidiously discriminatory disqualification. The State may not deny to some the privilege of holding public office that it extends to others on the basis of distinctions that violate federal constitutional guarantees.”Supreme Court Justice Stewart, Turner v. Fouche, 396 U.S. 346 at 362-3 (1970)
In Minnesota, we have a very special procedure called the Primary that keeps central committees from monopolizing the power of nomination, and places that power directly in the hands of Minnesotans. This procedure is fundamental to the fabric of our State as it allows every Minnesotan eligible to vote to participate in their own governing. First, a Minnesotan seeking office files what is called an Affidavit Of Candidacy with the State. In that Affidavit, the Minnesotan declares one central committee with whom they politically identify. Next, the State creates a ballot for each central committee comprised of the candidates identifying with that committee in their Affidavits. Third, Minnesotans who identify themselves with a central committee can request that committee’s ballot (and only that ballot) to vote in the Primary Election. Finally, the State compiles the data and the related central committee is bound to nominate the candidates chosen by their respective political parties. Then, all of us Minnesotans get to choose which of these nominated candidates will govern by way of the General Election.
When it comes to electing the U.S. President in 2020, the State adopted a new Primary system that diverges dramatically from the longstanding and time honored practice of Minnesotans nominating themselves. You and I are now substantially limited in our abilities to not only seek office, but also to freely associate politically with whomever we wish. For the first time in the history of our State, the central committees control whose names appear on the Primary Ballot. And, being the absolute gatekeeper of the names placed on the Primary Ballot, these elite groups of individuals get to ultimately decide who can and (more importantly) who cannot hold office. For those of us who believe in government of and by the people, being deprived of the opportunity to seek political office shakes not only the core of our moralities but threatens the fragile institution of a republican form of government itself.
“[T]he right to vote is heavily burdened if that vote may be cast only for one of two candidates in a primary election at a time when other candidates are clamoring for a place on the ballot. It is to be expected that a voter hopes to find on the ballot a candidate who comes near to reflecting his policy preferences on contemporary issues. This does not mean every voter can be assured that a candidate to his liking will be on the ballot, but the process of qualifying candidates for a place on the ballot may not constitutionally be measured solely in dollars. … The point, of course, is that ballot access must be genuinely open to all, subject to reasonable requirements.”Supreme Court Chief Justice Burger, Lubin v. Panish, 415 U.S. 709 at 716, 719 (1974)
Our new presidential Primary law allows every central committee to deprive you of your ability to not only run for and hold office, but also prohibit you from freely advancing the nomination of those candidates you find to be politically attractive. This is true whether you are acting as an individual or together with others having a similar mindset. In other words, the State is allowing central committees to measure a candidate not by the related political party’s desire to affiliate with that candidate, but instead by the amount of money that candidate can direct towards the central committee’s bank account. To demonstrate this, consider these recent facts.
On 30 September 2019, Donald Trump (by way of his political action committee) filtered $50,000 thru the Republican National Committee into the bank account of the Republican Party Of Minnesota. On 24 October, that central committee exercised its newly acquired power to place only Trump’s name on the Primary ballot. Though the Minnesota Secretary Of State is obligated to accept the names of those who desire to seek the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party Of Minnesota for inclusion on the Primary ballot until 30 December 2019 (such as William Weld, Mark Sanford, Joe Walsh, and Roque De La Fuente), our State is allowing this central committee to bar them and all Minnesotans from such inclusion. In consideration of these facts, it’s hard to conclude anything other than the idea our State allowed Trump to literally purchase his spot on our ballot by paying off the central committee Republican Party Of Minnesota.
UPDATE (4 November 2019): Shortly after the publication of this open letter, the Republican Party Of Minnesota announced it intends to allow write-ins on its primary ballot. Pursuant to law, central committees must notify the Minnesota Secretary Of State to allow for write-ins no later than 30 December 2019, and remit the names they choose to allow to be written-in no later than 24 February 2020. As absentee primary ballots could be distributed as early as 17 January 2020, there is a good chance those voters would cast a write-in vote that is not registered. Let’s say the candidate of my choice campaigns as a write-in because the central committee prevented that name from being printed on the primary ballot. Then, I write that name in and turn in my absentee ballot in late January. All that time, the central committee does not certify my candidate’s name because the law does not require them to: even despite that candidate’s campaigning as a write-in and my writing that name on my ballot. Then, the 24 February deadline passes and the central committee chooses to not register that write-in candidate. Or, the central committee registers the name as something different than what I wrote (like, “Billy” instead of “William”). So, now my vote doesn’t count because this central committee has prohibited me from politically associating with the candidate of my choosing. Remaining the absolute gatekeeper of the write-in option, these elite groups of individuals still get the final say in deciding who can and (more importantly) who cannot hold office.
UPDATE (23 December 2019): I learned that another $40,000 was given to the Republican Party Of Minnesota by the Republican National Committee just days after the exclusion occurred. That was not included in the original writing of this letter because the report containing this data point had not yet been filed. The transaction is included in the above linked report.
3 November 2019
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